Today, we bring you our entire interview on the final day of our The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt exclusive coverage. First we told you how CD Projekt Red doesn't "believe in selling extra content" and then we brought you their outlook on redefining the open-world genre. Of course, all of that and more is included as each question below is answered by game designer Konrad Tomaszkiewicz as he looks forward to the future of gaming and how his studio is working to make that a reality.
Examiner: As we end this current generation of gaming, how has the genre of open-world gaming evolved?
Konrad Tomaszkiewicz: Game worlds have gotten really big, immersive and, most importantly, detailed. There was a time when open world gameplay meant that you just had to travel from point A to point B with nothing to do in between. The surroundings tried to emulate the wilderness, clumps of polygons were meant to look like animals and so on. The big difference is that, nowadays, there’s like a second game between point A and B. If you want, you can forget that point B even exists. It happened slowly, so many gamers just take it for granted. But when you think about it for a while, it’s really a magnificent thing!
Ex: Clearly you all are trying to redefine what people expect from an open-world game, but what does all that encompass? How do you redefine a genre? Is redefining the open-world genre just about no loading screens and massive worlds? That certainly is part of it, but how do you think developers should approach trying to change what people think of when it comes to revolutionizing a genre?
KT: Bearing in mind what I said before, think about closed world games. Their storytelling is usually quite good because fewer possibilities for gamers mean that developers can plan more and concentrate solely on the finite number of locations in the game. We want to take that quality and extend it to an open world - we want every inch of the world you’ll traverse to be interesting and believable. That’s our way of redefining it.
Ex: Will open-world titles become living in the sense that developers can always change the world, the game and make it so the player will always have new content and will never have to buy a new game? Is that looking too far down the road?
KT: It’s called an MMORPG *laughs*. Our game is quite different in this regard - The Witcher 3 offers a deep single player experience and it’s here to tell a story. And all good stories have a beginning, a middle and an ending. We could sell extra content to gamers “down the road,” but we don’t believe in that - we believe patches, fixes and additional content should be provided to gamers free of charge. Only something REALLY big, and something that will not make you feel ripped off, justifies a price tag. Remember “PC add-on discs” back in the day? Yeah, I’m thinking about the ones that extended the original game by offering many hours of additional gameplay - if we ever decide to charge you for something, we think you will appreciate what you get in return.
Ex: How will next-generation consoles help blend multiplayer and single player experiences together in an open-world game?
KT: Since The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is not a multiplayer game, it’s hard for me to answer. If I had to hypothesize, my vision would be an online single player experience, similar to what Dark Souls did but on a much greater scale.
Ex: We saw how Ubisoft is planning to utilize Microsoft's cloud to further push Watch Dogs on the Xbox One, with more realistic water and smarter AI. Obviously the industry is just beginning to understand how to utilize this to its maximum potential, but how much further do you think developers will be able to push open-world games this upcoming generation with services like that?
KT: It all depends on the services, their accessibility and many other such things. Since Microsoft has removed the need for online verification and many gamers will have the possibility of staying offline, how will it affect the services that were previously meant to be “outsourced” to the cloud? If we can assume a uniform environment for everyone, it’s tricky to provide forecasts. Truth be told we’re still exploring many of these functionalities and, since it’s all so new and changing rapidly, it will take some time to start painting broader pictures.
Ex: It seems like there was a heavy trend towards two different mechanics this generation: the semblance of an open-world and RPG elements. Do you think we'll continue to see that over the next couple of years?
KT: It all depends on gamers, really - if they continue to buy games that represent this or that particular trend, the trend will continue. It’s as simple as that!
We'd like to thank CD Projekt Red and Konrad for taking time out of their busy schedule to talk with us about The Witcher 3. And with that, our coverage has concluded, we hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes Q&A into the minds of the developers.
Don't fret though, we've got much more exclusive content lined up, and many surprises along the way. To stay up to date, like us on Facebook!